A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s Premier League match away to Brighton and Hove Albion.
This Sunday sees Chelsea make the trip down to the south coast as they visit Brighton and Hove Albion. In matches following their Europa League ties so far this campaign, The Blues remain unbeaten and haven’t even conceded a single goal, a run which includes wins away at Burnley and Southampton.
The Blues go into their final away match before Christmas after losing their 2 previous away Premier League matches and will be eager to make amends as the first team remain buoyed after a stunning victory over the champions Manchester City last Saturday.
The Amex Stadium has been a strong home venue this season for The Seagulls with only 1 loss so far and manager Chris Hughton will be in a positive mind as his side aim to turn round their terrible form against Chelsea. The Blues are unbeaten against Brighton since 1933 and have won all 6 Premier League clashes.
Maurizio Sarri will be without Alvaro Morata who injured his knee playing against MOL Vidi on Thursday and Mateo Kovacic may also still be unavailable.
The manager could well keep with Eden Hazard leading the attack, a ploy that worked so successfully last weekend, but Olivier Giroud’s height would prove to be very useful against a team as tall and as high scoring at set pieces as Brighton. Either Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek will replace Kovacic if required but otherwise, we can expect last Saturday’s team will be selected.
Hughton should be able to recall striker Glenn Murray after being out with a shoulder injury. The 35 year old has been a real talisman for the club and has shown some great form this season. He returned to action as a substitute in their loss away to Burnley last Saturday. In his absence, Florin Andone has looked threatening in attack and The Seagulls can also rely on Solly March, Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Grosse to create their chances. Defender Shane Duffy however is ruled out.
This is a match that all will be expecting a decent victory for The Blues, but Brighton are showing signs of being a solid Premier League side and are very tough to beat at home. Sarri will need his returning stars to show the aptitude and the skill set required to overpower an opponent who will collect a number of big scalps this season.
A loss for Chelsea could be psychologically very costly at this time of the year. The Blues will want to consolidate their 4th place position and not slide further away from the top 2 and not allow both London rivals to gain momentum on them. Chelsea kick off at the same time as 5th placed Arsenal, who are away at lowly Southampton, while 3rd placed Spurs will have hosted struggling Burnley on Saturday. We can expect both to gain all 3 points and with the busy spell of back to back matches coming up, places and gaps can alter very quickly.
But surely a full choice Chelsea side possess too much quality and ability to keep up their perfect league record against Brighton. A return to winning ways away from home will be just the tonic.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue